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101 Keys Soaking Wet: The Flexboard 143

What's 19.5 inches long, bright yellow, flexible, and rubber? Wait, don't answer that. To be be more precise, let me rephrase: what's 19.5 inches long, bright yellow, flexible, rubber, and equipped with a 7-foot PS/2 cable? (Read more.)

There may be other answers to that eternal, burning question, but the only one of which I am aware is the strange and intriguing keyboard (hooked to an Amnet laptop on loan from Roblimo) on which I type ths review. It's called the Flexboard, available in the U.S. from Man & Machine. And yes, it works fine with Linux -- in this case, with a semi-functional installation of Corel Linux 2.4. Nothing unusual about it, in fact, except that it's banana yellow, has no moving parts, can be rolled to the approximate dimensions of a stromboli, smells a bit like a paint store, and can droop becomingly around a user's naked thighs. Other than that, just your run-of-the-mill PS/2 keyboard.

With a design straight out of '70s Sweden, or perhaps the personal computer division of Fisher-Price (but actually manufactured in Germany by a company called Kota Technologies, this is not a keyboard you're likely to to find around the office. First of all, most offices do not need keyboards that cost as much as a passable 15" monitor -- and at $129 for the standard Home / Office version (the one I'm bumping away at), it's pretty close. (In case you're wondering, it is available in other colors, including neutral grey.)

Your $129, though, gets you an interesting, very specialized piece of equipment. This keyboard can withstand treatment that standard mechanical ones cannot, to put it lightly. (Turns on spigot -- not too hot, but not too cold.)

Add $100 for the even tougher "Industrial" version, and you can happily drench your keyboard in oil and many chemicals; the Industrial version also features a 2-year warranty vs. the standard edition's single year, and will withstand a wider range of storage and operating temperatures. For factories, laboratories, workshops and such it seems like just the ticket. Even the standard one, though, shrugs off both water and hot chocolate at point-blank range just fine. Rinse off, towel dry -- no need to wring.

The sensors which enable the keys are hidden beneath flat-topped projections in the one-molded-piece-of-rubber which is the keyboard. The letters, numbers and functon keys are perfectly round, while space bar, enter, and other special characters are elongated ovals. (Lower drain plug.)

The keys are adequately labeled; the printing is a little lighter than I would expect -- grey-brown rather than black -- but in practical use provides plenty of contrast. (Adjusts water.) Not that I'm giving it any practical use right now.

How well does it work? In short, a) better than I expected and, b) not bad. It takes some getting used to the feel of a rubber keyboard (and adjusting your typing style to its response), but it's not the awful, toothgrinding experience of "typing" on the flat-membrane surface of the old family Sinclair Z-80; it's really possible to type at a decent clip on this thing. Slower than my regular keyboard, but OK. Even combination keystrokes (shift-plus, alt-plus) work fine. However, if you're used to clacking along on a mechanical keyboard, especially if you crave the audio and tactile feedback of an IBM desk-dominator, the feel of this one will come as a surprise, though not necessarily a rude one.

The loudest you can make this keyboard roar, in fact, is closer to a Sunday School whisper than to, say, normal conversation. Unless you really want to swing your fingers, it is utterly silent. (A little more Hot, please.) A gentle squeezing motion is all it takes to actuate the keys. Even after acclimating myself to it for a few days, though, I find that a few keys (F, J, and a few others in the bottom row) simply do not work as well as others. Disconcertingly, the key which causes me the most trouble is the spacebar. I am generally a right-thumb spacebar thumper; I find that by switching to my left thumb my success is much improved. Overall, the engineers did an admirable job balancing sensitivity with oversensivity. I end up hitting backspace more than I'd like, but less than I feared I would have to.

So who would want one of these? With not a sharp angle or hard surface to be found, I can think of various institutions which might order it for those characteristics alone, and of which I know only by thorough reading. (Ouch! Too hot!) Any environment that could be wetter or messier than you'd subject an ordinary keyboard to (anyone who's gotten cat hair or soda in their keyboard will know what I mean) might be well-served with the Flexboard. Office klutzes everywhere -- we know who we are -- still would have to go through quite a few $30 keyboards from the local office supply before one of these makes sense for that reason alone.

It does seem like this would be a great keyboard for children, since not only are there no pieces to break off and chew on or swallow, but more importantly it cannot be used as a bludgeon against other children. And for anyone in a situtation which truly requires a spillproof, particle-proof keyboard, the generous cable allows you to better protect the PC itself, placing it in a cabinet, say, or otherwise out of your particular "splash zone." For situations where quiet is more important than input speed, this board would shine.

Having typed this review from the comfort of my bathtub, I can also attest to the Flexboard's resistance to Freeman Botanicals Apple Nectar shampoo as well as Dove moisturizing soap. Better close before I find out what it can't shrug off and get myself into even more hot water.

Many thanks to Clifton Broumand of Man&Machine for graciously providing this review unit.

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101 Keys Soaking Wet: The Flexboard

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    be be sounds like a great keyboard
  • Neither do real penises, but there are certain things you can buy...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    There seems to be a number of posts which predictably (yawn) pop up on *every single slashdot thread* without exception. "Old news" is one of them. I find it terribly whiny and annoying.

    My suggestion to rob is to write a script that auto-posts, for each /. article, all of the usual posts right away ("first post", then "old news", then "hot grits", whatever) so that the majority of us who couldn't care less can actually get on with more meaningful discussion of a topic.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This keyboard could put a new dimention on cyber sex(when rolled up);-0

    Thats why this article was written in the tub

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Perhaps a floating sponge mouse would do the trick? Or maybe we'd have to make it a lobster!
  • How about mounting it to the shower wall, so I can code while waiting for the conditioner to condition.
  • >I looked it up, and saw that it had been mentioned in the quickies before, but never explained in greater length.

    And the fact that it had been mentioned in a Quickies post in no way detracts from the legitimay of this review. Can you imagine if the New York Times refused to review a book just because the Chicago Sun-Times had already reviewed it? Okay, better analogy: Can you imagine the New York Times refused to publish a review because the editor had mentioned liking the book in an opinion column? The notion is ludicrous, yet that's what some of the (immature and desperately in need of something to do) Slashdot readership wants. Both the above analogies apply.

    Good grief, people, you want Linux software to only be mentioned on Freshmeat, and want hardware to only be mentioned on Tom's Hardware. No software, no hardware; what, then? The winers complain about stories NOT related to hardware and software.

    Guess it's time to pack up; the whiners don't want any stories posted. :^)

    >I thought it was a neat product, but certainly not my ideal keyboard. Specialized product, limited audience, but neat.

    >That's all:)

    Amen, brotha. :^) I didn't really care about it, either, but I could see how this is a neat thing. If I had a need for an expensive, submersible, rollable keyboard, I'd be running to get one. As it is, tho, I don't.

    At least I didn't whine that it was in the Quickies section already (perhaps my life got in the way of remembering this fact? ;^)
  • I have to agree with the original poster. Go away if you don't like Slashdot. Folks like me do.

    Slashdot is pretty much the same as it was when it started. Not everything is new, not everything is serious/important/whatever. It's just a bunch of stories that the folks who run Slashdot find entertaining/amusing/interesting/important/whateve r. If you don't, then don't read.

    Oddly enough, I've started seeing "Why are there so many Linux stories. Not all of us use Linux. Waaaaah!" a lot. Reality check: Slashdot isn't as Linux-oriented as it was when it was founded.

    Again, if you don't like the way Slashdot is run, remember this: Slashdot was founded by some guys who wanted a news site that presented info that *they* were interested in. If that's not good enough for you, why not do the same?

    And, to be blunt, if your answer is, "I don't have the time/resources/mental capacity to do so," then shut UP! >:^( It irks me to no end that people seem to think that they can dictate the way a site is run without taking a more proactive stance. So your stories get refused. Big deal. Live with it. Once you enter "The Real World" you'll have to grow used to rejection and take it like an adult. That, quite frankly, is how the world of journalism works: if the publisher doesn't like your story, it gets rejected, and whining, quite frankly, sends you to the unemployment line eventually. So the best policy is to just be an adult and move on.

  • Why else would you need a rubber keyboard? And here, we thought they were worried about getting mere pepsi on the keyboard....

  • I was going to say "the latest Dildo" but then I thought better of it. I'll leave that kind of comment for an AC.

    Instead I'll ask what took so long and when can I get a waterproof rubber wrapped web pad with a touch screen pointing device and a Transmeta chip. It took a lot of work to move an old PS/2 into the bathroom so I could brows while siting on the throne. With this I should be able to surf in the tub.

    Latter on we can deal with a laptop version where shear bulk is sacrificed to get you everything you need. I.e. Solar panels, 3 day battery life, wireless internet connection, sound. No removable media and 3 layers of sealing to get to the adapter port for when you really need to plug in.

  • I would imagine so, considering I've had no problems throwing conventional keyboards in the dishwasher; you just have to make sure they are dry before turning them on. :)
  • What about the geek girls residing in Slashdot with the rest of us? They might not mind it ;-)
  • just curious what would happen when I try to post on an article that I moderated...
  • I mean, My son (2) loves to spill drinks, and I'm usually on the computer, so...
  • A pointing device on this keyboard would be nice to have. How about some kind of 'eraserhead' pointing stick like IBM have? Or better still, you could bend and flex the keyboard to move the pointer - that would probably be great for some game, although I can't think of which game it would be.

    Another cool thing would be if you could break off bits of keyboard and use them separately. For example, you could cut off the numeric keypad with a pair of scissors, or cut the keyboard in half so it's like one of those ghastly 'ergonomic' Apple things. And then if you could squish the two halves back together again...
  • "Would you rather i let my freak flag fly, or i whip a gat on your ass?" -Me, when a kid wanted me to cut my hair Easy for you to say! ;-) V
  • I'm not really an elf, I just play one in AD&D.

    Too bad. <pout>


  • Hey you could replace the heatsink and fan with a pump and tubing to heat the bath while you use it.
    Thought of something like this instead of fans on heatsinks for heating rooms. But this would be one better.

  • Actually maybe we should use the fittings for Water/Oil cooling CPU's to heat our hot water instead of using a hot water heater. Might save some money in heating bills.
  • I can't believe I'm adding to this conversation, but here I go. Voltage will not kill you. Current will. It takes .1 milliamp across the heart to cause problems, and 1mA to kill. The human body has a nominal resistance (left hand to right hand) of a few Megaohms for the most part, but it has been measures as low as 300 Kohms in certains conditions (wet, and bleeding). Taking these number, you go with about 30 volts is dangerous, for a conservative amount. You cannot get 1 amp across your body at 5V. V=IR does not allow for that.

    Unless you're in a strong magnetic field, but that's for another day....

  • giggle. You have nothing to worry about. 5v is not harmful under real-world circumstances. However, you would be out a $130 keyboard. So pay $230, and get the industrial NEMA 4X version. Awww. Yeah.

  • Now, if only i could figure out a way to make my little pseudo-PC's pseudo-internal speaker not beep really loudly ... ;)

    Unplug it.


  • I've just got one of these keyboards in the office for evaluation for a few days and I've got to say I agree 100% with the comments. The spacebar is a bit of a pain (Thanks for the left-hand tip, it does help!). Other than that, it types OK (I'm on it now).

    With about 15 people giving it a go, the only other real complaint is that there are no LEDs for Caps/Num/Scroll Lock. The consensus was that it shouldn't have been too hard to include them in bulge on the left side (which must also contain the chip(s) anyway.

    FYI we're evaluating them for use in a sandy environment rather than a wet one.

    If the flexable screen technology ever pans out this could be seriously cool...

  • This would be great for prisons that want to help, or allow, their "clientelle" to get on the net. Maybe a neat spinoff of the Prisoner's Literature Project [prisonactivist.org] could be the Prisoner's Internet Access Project.
  • Good original content... way to go Slashdot!

    __________________________________________________ ___

  • but this story is very old now and has been reported on slashdot several times. Please do a search to see the other stories.

    You will also find that this item has been on sale at Maplin Electronics in the UK for some time: http://www.maplin.co.uk

  • Check out the links listed above. The Man and Machine site describes a water resistant lcd panel [man-machine.com] and mouse.
  • I found the idea interesting, why isn't there a link to a picture of the thing? If there isn't one already online, why don't you guys take one and scan it in?
  • Two things:

    First, owning a thinkpad (preceded by a Satelite) I've grown to love the accesability of a pointing device without moving my hands. from the keybord. I've seen bank tellers with such IBM keybords for desktops. Anyone know where to buy one?

    Second, does anyone remember the SNL fake commercial for the Adobe car? (the car made out of clay).

  • No, you are both the other Ant. Ant
  • slip past the Katz-filter??

    Ow wait.. It's not by Katz.. It's just that the story is also 19.5 inches ;-)

  • Though actually the keyboard sounds closer in feel to the Timex-Sinclair 2000 (Spectrum) computer, with the "chicklet" keyboard!

    I find it amusing that in the past I had a ZX-81 and finally rigged a normal (TI-994a) keyboard to replace the default one. Now I have a normal keyboard, and yearn to replace it with a ZX-81 type keyboard! The pendulum has swung all the way back, I guess.
  • At the very least, one would think PMS/2 was relevant to the discussion.
  • Let me settle this, as a geek girl:

    HELL NO! >_<

    (i make no claims to speak on behalf of other /. girls)

  • ? Just imagine: the next time it crashes, you could wrestle to the floor and hold it in a triple-death-headcrush manouver until it promises not to do it again. And best of all,it wouldn't get damaged.

    Yeah, you're right.. you could do that.

    But then that takes some of the fun out of ripping it to shreds when it finally dies on you.
  • This flexible keyboard is strongly reminiscent of the flat, roll-up-able piano owned by Picard's lady friend [sherylfranklin.com] on a Next Generation episode. I wonder if that was partly the inspiration for the Flexboard?
  • Hey... news for nerds extends to hardware.

  • Actually, in the lab, I would see this being more useful as a means of keeping the lab environment sterile. Heck, you could probably use this puppy in a clean room environment.

    Could also be a BIG deal in medical environments as a means of reducing places where bacteria can hide.
  • My girlfriend and I were discussing the movie Gladiator last night. To get directly to the point, the argument turned to the relationship between an author, an audience, and a critic.

    Based on my premises that an author writes for an Ideal Audience, and not for the entire audience or for a critic (though there is some interplay between an IA and a critic), she pointed out that today "Everyone is a critic." and then pointed directly to our ADSL gateway.

    While I don't necessarily agree with her in the context of last night's topic -- I still think a critic is a special class of audience member -- she had a point.

    The internet encourages publishing. Feedback forums like slashdot and ZDNET, doubly so because of their ease of use. People publish what they know. People know their opinions.

    The end result is a horrible cacophony of "whiners" or terribly misinformed, uninformed or irrelevant opinion. To me, somehow, this is what seperates an audience member from a critic: the ability to more fully justify an opinion than the median audience member.

    I doubt that time will change this affliction. The only solution is to accept the WWW with it's faults and the irritating effect it has on people. The benefit of getting to weed out the nonsensical, strange and meritless to reach the "insightful" "interesting" or the "underrated" is preferrable to having none of it at all.
  • failing that, cut it.
    or cut the red wire from the motherboard and put a switch of some sort in there.

    so you can turn it on for normal operation
    and off for night time stealth porn hounding.
  • Well dude, consider that its much easier to wipe down a (flat) keyboard than to hose out a standard keyboard. That's the idea with this industrial keyboards, they can take alot AND they can be cleaned off easily too.

  • Uh, no. Sorry to disapoint you, but unless you open up your chest cavity and apply electrodeds near your heart, 5V is not going to hurt you, no matter what.

  • Love the review but when I read:
    The keys are adequately labeled; the printing is a little lighter than I would expect -- grey-brown rather than black

    I could not help thinking the ribbon must have got a bit damp and the ink is diluted.
  • How more whiners are we going to get on Slashdot before we reach criticle mass. If you don't like the stories you read, go somewhere else. You know what the best was is to stick it to someone who you think has sold out? Don't frequent there services. Christ, it's like you people absolutely get off on whining. "Boo hoo. This article doesn't absolutely and completely appeal to me. Ipso Facto, it is the worst article ever written and the author is a complete moron." Or better yet, "Old news. I read about this in X twelve years ago. Look at me, I am 1337 news god."

    Guess what? Other people read Slashdot. If you see something you dislike or already know, pass it over, because with the volume of traffic this site receives there's bound to be someone who hasn't and doesn't need your obligatory bitch and moan post cluttering up the thread.
  • ..not down!!! At least, it contais a very valid link to a picture of the keyboard, and info abot it. The link itself is more informative than the article on /.

  • Sticking a spanner across the terminals of a car battery is pretty spectacular, because the spanner has close to zero ohms resistance and therefore will theoretically let the full 700 amperes or so to flow.

    I'm not sure what the resistance of human skin is, but I seem to remember reading somewhere that under normal conditions it's something like 50 kilo-ohms per centimetre. Even just assuming that 50K, the current at 5 volts would be:
    I= 0.1 milliamperes,
    which I'm pretty sure won't kill you.

  • For those who think no ones cares about this sort
    of thing, I gotta say that when I found out about
    this keyboard, I did my "happy dance."

    Imagine this - a touchscreen 15" LCD monitor with
    built-in speakers, one of these keyboards, an
    Espresso with a USB Ethernet adapter and a
    Hauppauge USB TV tuner mounted "out of the
    weather", and what have I got?

    Order a beer and surf the net, or frag your
    neighbor, or watch whatever damned game you
    want, or request a tune from our MP3 jukebox
    or MIDI-ized player piano, cause you're sitting
    at the coolest bar in town.

  • I think the idea of large cumbersom objects being foldable/rollable was demostrated well in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation when Captain Picard fell in love with the ship's new doctor and she whipped out a full sized piano she had rolled up to roughly the size of a stromboli! It would be convienient for people with laptops who perfer full full sized keyboards when they don't have to worry about space considerations, like in a hotel room. Once they are able to do this with monitors, a whole new era of portable computing will start. Rollable (or at least foldable) cell phones will probably be the next wave of compact communication.

  • because I like playing with new hardware (esp. keyboards, since I am a keyboard nut),


    Here's some links that may interest you.
    http://www.techstyle-com.com/thekeyboar ds.htm [techstyle-com.com] and http://www.techarts.com/produc ts/keyboards/default.htm [techarts.com].

    ... I prefer the second link, both because the company lives right here in my hometown and the keys themselves are hand-carved cherry wood.

  • Yes, but not at the 1 Amp the guy mentioned in the parent post.

    "When I'm singing a ballad and a pair of underwear lands on my head, I hate that. It really kills the mood."

  • I have spent a lot of time abroad in England and France, and was amazed at how many American reruns were being shown. It's a shame that the taste appears to be communicable. On the other hand, what could be funnier than sitting in Paris watching Baywatch: David Hasselhoff on TV with a dubbed-in high-pitched geeky French voice.

    "When I'm singing a ballad and a pair of underwear lands on my head, I hate that. It really kills the mood."

  • Get the industrial version it can hadle chemicals like MEK(methel-ethel-ketone a pretty nasty solvent) so paint shouldn't be a problem, maybe a strong acid (but then again if you spill strong acid on your keyboard you have bigger problems.
  • I use my rubber Flexboard primarily:

    • as a doormat
    • as a rubberized hand grip to open tight jars
    • as a knee cushion in the garage
    • to check /. in the shower
    • to get porn in the shower
    • Hemos the Hampster
  • I mean, this seems like a good product and all, but really, what does happen if you spill a material on there that it can't handle. Like, lets say you get some type of paint on the keyboard, which it can't handle, and not only does the keyboard not work, it electrocutes you.

  • The point of it isn't so you can type in the bathtub, the point is you can do whatever you want with it, and not have to worry if your keyboard can handle it.

    I wonder if they have durable mice anywhere...

  • You could if it was a optical mouse.
  • you realize that the iBrators a joke right??

  • A squashy monitor that I could punch occasionally would be useful (hey, you been there, you know what I mean...). Mind you I suppose my current monitor could probably cope with a battering from this rubber keyboard.

    Put the both together like AnthonyL says and you're getting into serious soft toy space ....woooaahhhh...

  • oh damn... i dunno what you people think but that bathtub part was a little bit more information than i actually needed... ;)

  • Well, naked geek thighs are not bad by themselves, (much better than other types of naked thighs, at least when you consider the person possessing the thighs) but the image of naked geek thighs with a floppy yellow keyboard on them is just...bleah!! *shudder*

    I'm not really an elf, I just play one in AD&D.

  • And I thought the Swiss were so big on ergonomics. This thing looks great, but personally, I'll sacrifice a keyboard to the God of Pepsi long before I'll sacrifice a wrist to the God of RSI :)

    Read the review more carefully, the thing is made in Germany ("but actually manufactured in Germany by a company called Kota Technologies") and only compared it with a Swedish not a Swiss design. ("with a design straight out of '70s Sweden.")

  • But TROLL VAIN SUDS is nearly on-topic.
  • Of course, the REAL question at slashdot is: Can it handle HOT GRITS being poured on it?
    You trolls are too slow today.

  • 5v at say 1 Amp is way powerful enough to worry you, expecially if you have wet hands and are stood bare foot in a puddle while you bite a bare coper cable ;)
  • O.K, seems i left the tags out there. But, if you look hard, you may notice the ;) appended to the comment. ;)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hey, this was easy until you mentioned the PS/2 cord. It made me think. What kind of a self-respecting dildo would have use PS/2?

    They're USB nowadays. *shrugs*
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Who sees the possibilities here. Some kind of waterproof pointing device and lcd (that doesn't fog up) and you've got a really nice shower-mastur^H^H^H^H^H^Hresearch device.
  • I've seen bank tellers with such IBM keybords for desktops. Anyone know where to buy one?

    pckeyboard.com [pckeyboard.com] bought IBM's keyboard division from Lexmark a few years ago. They still sell the IBM keyboards and a few similar models of their own. Fricking expensive, though.

  • Especially UltraWide.

  • I've read a lot of PDA users who swear by the third-party keyboards that attach to Palm and similar PDA's. Is there anyone making a flexible keyboard for that market?
  • That's positively disgusting.

  • I believe from my electronics days that this is wrong, that any voltage will--not can--kill at sufficient amperage. We used to say that it's not voltage that kills but amperage. As an example, a car battery has less voltage than two nine-volts in series, but far far far more amperage, and it can melt out pieces of the terminal.
  • If RSI has a god, it must be one of the Great Old Ones. __ (oO) (It's the Great Old Ones, Charlie Brown!) /||\
  • You know, everywhere I go, where computer access is needed, and the enviroment is dirty (oil change place, mechanic's, auto zone, checker, etc - hell, any car place - many hospitals, warehouses, etc), there seems to always be a VT100 terminal sitting around, working just fine. Many have missing keys, or the printed characters on the keyboards are rubbed off - or they are covered by a rubber skin over the keyboard that is an ugly brownish yellow. Are these terminals nearly indestructable?
  • They actually wanted it back after you sat in the bathtub with it on your naked thighs. What are they gonna do with it now? Resell it?

    I shudder at the mere suggestion.
  • Sheesh, how many ants do we have on /.?

  • Hmmm, another ant! [grumbles] :)

  • I saw this a few weeks ago, it's probably been around awhile. Before I saw it, though, I had this same idea. I didn't really have the resources to implement it though. I think the best thing about it is not the everything-proof-ness, but the roll-up-ability (doncha just love my new vocabulary?). This makes it perfect for a wearable if you don't want to get and learn a twiddler. The withstandability is nice if you drop it in a mud puddle, though. I guess the quiet is good if you're in a library or something sitting down to type something. The one advantage I can see that the twiddler has over this thing is that you can twiddle standing up (dunno, maybe you could duct tape this to your waist, but that would be an ergonomic nightmare...).

  • Many thanks to Clifton Broumand of Man&Machine for graciously providing this review unit.

    Which he now has to donate to slashdot, since it's been in the tub with timothy and (shudder) on his naked thighs.
  • It may be marketed to 'industrial' audiences, but what about the home user who always seems to be making a 'mess' from what he or she (probably he 99% of the time) sees? I think we'll see a lot more banner ads for this one in odd places. Easy clean up, and rubber fetish fufilling. An odd combination, almost as odd as cybersex.

  • The keyboard you're thinking of is the Sinclair ZX 80, the worlds first sub £100 home computer. The Z 80 is the CPU. :)
  • Is there some particular reason you wanted to be able to type while in the tub, or am I missing the whole point of this?

    You're missing the whole point. This is an important breakthrough in the field of geek hygene. Apparently you've never worked with hackers who refuse to leave the keyboard for any reason except to go to the bathroom or (perhaps) sleep.

    With this innovation, you could either:

    a) Convince them to leave the desk for the tub, arguing that it will no longer mean being bored for five minutes, or

    b) Hose them down where they sit. If they complain that you're disturbing their compiler hacking/Command and Conquer playing, intimate you're surprised that something like this would disturb their powers of concentration. This will generally shut them up, and on future occasions they will do their damnedest to act like they don't notice, and like it's not even slowing down their typing.

  • I did a:

    man 2 son

    but it didn't find it.

    oh, you mean it wasn't a unix man page reference? then why did you put a section number after it?


  • You mean like the iBrator [ibrator.com]?

  • by JohnZed ( 20191 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @09:55AM (#1086515)
    The "Man and Machine" store cites lab use as one of the primary reasons why you might want waterproof/chemicalproof keyboards and mice. But, really, if you're working in a lab where you routinely spill chemicals all over the place, don't you have bigger issues to worry about than what kind of keyboard you have?
  • by Anthony Kilna ( 27541 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @08:05AM (#1086516) Homepage
    When I become Dr. Evil level rich, I think I will make a pool with a glass window, in which I will put a large screen monitor. Attached to the side of the pool will be this keyboard, and some sort of touchpad mouse. That way I can access the web to look up the rules for "Marco Polo [corpcomm.net]" if there's ever a dispute.
  • by remande ( 31154 ) <remande@ b i g f o o t . com> on Monday May 08, 2000 @01:45AM (#1086517) Homepage
    All joking aside, there are a lot of messy environments where you can stick the monitor in an enclosure and leave a keyboard out that you can hose down at the end of the day.

    Ever see those terminals where you get your oil changed? If those things resist 10W30, they're worth the money. Manufacturing, auto service, and maritime uses abound.

  • by zorgon ( 66258 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @06:11PM (#1086518) Homepage Journal
    Damn! You beat me to it! Damn! Damn! Damn! Well, I found it on an old system.

    SON(2) System calls SON(2)


    son - signalling macro for male child


    #include <family.h>

    int son(void *betweenhead, char *msg);


    son() attempts to communicate with male child process structure pointed to by
    betweenhead, sending message msg.


    On success, the number of bytes in
    msg listened to by male child process is returned. On failure, -1 is returned and errno is set, which is almost all the time.


    EPHONE The call was interrupted by a communication from female child process belonging to a different owner.

    ETVON Child process was watch()ing a different medium and did not accept msg.


    Any latest style that the parent process considers ludicrous.


    The parent process just doesn't understand, and is ruining the child process' life.

    daughter(2), take_out_the_garbage(2) (C++ systems only), clean_up_your_room(3)

    Linux July 12, 1997 1

  • by Bogatyr ( 69476 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @10:07AM (#1086519) Homepage
    Let's see: a flat-panel video display on a wall mount, a flexboard mounted on the counter (or on a cable so I can plop it anywhere I'm not using for mixing bowls), a wireless ethernet card and a SMALL case I can mount in the corner of a kitchen cabinet, and I have the recipe database access terminal design. Cool.
  • by hartsock ( 177068 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @08:39AM (#1086520) Homepage Journal
    Before I went to college I payed my bills by working as a service writer in an autoshop. They had just computerized and I had the responsibility of helping everyone get used to the new system.

    The mechanics would log parts requests and services preformed at a terminal in the shop and service writers would do the billing and restocking operations. We went through quite a few terminals in the shop because even with a membrane the keyboard would get damaged by spilt oil or the plain old greasy finger syndrome.

    Automechanics aren't in general the most tidy of folks. The system would be tortured by various shop disasters. But I remember the keyboard and monitor were forever covered in a thick layer of slime. Fortuantely we had the sense to put the system box in another room.

    I'm sure this rubber keyboard idea would have saved a few bucks... well, at least the keyboard would have been happier.

    --// Hartsock //
  • by Voodoo Fysh ( 178822 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @07:40AM (#1086521)
    I reckon we should put this in a little room with the ohsodamngroovy Happy Hackin' Keyboard and watch them fight it out.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 07, 2000 @07:50AM (#1086522)
    BTW, this is 49.53 cm long with a 2.1336 m cable. There are real pictures of the thing at http://www.man-machine.com/keybrd1.htm [man-machine.com].
  • by llornkcor ( 69187 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @08:08AM (#1086523) Homepage
    ok, the REAL question is, can it handle HOT pizza sauce/cheese, and HOT coffee???? Cause thats what REAL hackers eat. God knows theres tons of crumbs, and coffee stains on my keyboards. I can envision working from a hot tub now.... Does it come in a wireless version?? I could hook up the monitor to be a huge, theatre sized tv screen, and type with the wireless version, all from a hot tub... ahhhhh...
  • by Money__ ( 87045 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @07:44AM (#1086524)
    Re: "Having typed this review from the comfort of my bathtub, I can also attest to the Flexboard's resistance to Freeman Botanicals Apple Nectar shampoo as well as Dove moisturizing soap. Better close before I find out what it can't shrug off and get myself into even more hot water."

    Moments after posting this story our beloved timothy did the one thing that will trash any system.

    Opened an email in Outlook. ;)

  • We don't want to hear about your naked thighs!

  • by AntonyL ( 159816 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @07:46AM (#1086526) Homepage
    How about an entire PC made out of this rubbery stuff? Just imagine: the next time it crashes, you could wrestle to the floor and hold it in a triple-death-headcrush manouver until it promises not to do it again. And best of all,it wouldn't get damaged.

    Ant. (but not the one at the antfarm)

  • by drix ( 4602 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @08:46AM (#1086527) Homepage
    And I thought the Swiss were so big on ergonomics. This thing looks great, but personally, I'll sacrifice a keyboard to the God of Pepsi long before I'll sacrifice a wrist to the God of RSI :)

  • by kzinti ( 9651 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @07:51AM (#1086528) Homepage Journal
    Is it good for computer sex? Can the poor lonely geek-type with only an online girlfriend finally say good-bye to the Sticky Keyboard Syndrome forever? Inquiring minds want to know...

  • Not a cent.

    Since this post is at 1, more people will see / will have seen it than the ones marked down as flamebait or trolls.

    But since you raise the issue, I would like to make clear the sequence here: I saw this because of a submission to slashdot. I looked it up, and saw that it had been mentioned in the quickies before, but never explained in greater length. I arranged to receive a review copy because I like playing with new hardware (esp. keyboards, since I am a keyboard nut), and this just looked kind of wacky. The folks at Man & Machine hadn't even heard of slashdot, as far as I could tell.

    I haven't heard from them and don't even know or particularly care whether they've read it, except for the fact that I hope they note my thanks to them at the bottom for letting me experiment with it.

    But the suggestion that the makers have somehow compensated slashdot for the review, or even that they had a hand in it, is inaccurate. We don't even get to keep it! :)

    I thought it was a neat product, but certainly not my ideal keyboard. Specialized product, limited audience, but neat.

    That's all:)

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @08:05AM (#1086530) Homepage
    IBM makes a flat-panel display for food-preparation areas (mostly in fast food) that can be hosed down routinely without damage. But it comes with either a touchscreen or a miserable membrane keyboard. Paired with this keyboard, it could be a nice device for difficult environments.

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault